The cool breeze of the early summer night was quite refreshing. It dispersed the heat left over from the daytime.
It was just the right time for families to gather for dinner.
There was no exception even for the Cao Family.
The main house of the Cao Family was very storied. Not only had the owner of the house changed quite a few times in the past decades, but it was repaired, renovated, and even rebuilt several times. Still, the house managed to retain its original appearance. Compared to other newly built houses, the architecture of the house, the huge arc of glass panes at the top and thick, heavy curtains made it look soaked in sunlight, solemn yet elegant.
Inside that dining room, except for the fourth son who was still away studying abroad, the chief commander of the east warzone, Cao Xiong, sat by the dining table with his eldest, second and third sons, having a quiet dinner.
It was a quiet affair, all four men sitting up straight although their postures were relaxed. Even when they returned home and changed out of their uniforms, it wasn’t hard to notice they were trained in the army.
Even the second son, Cao Bin, who had not entered the army but instead chose a political career, was strictly trained by his father since his youth. He did not fall short when compared to the other three men in uniform.
The dining atmosphere was somber and heavy, only the sounds of chopsticks lightly touching the sides of dishes and chewing noises could be heard.
However, this was not because their father-child relationships were bad, not because there was nothing to say between themselves, but because as the eldest person there, Cao Xiong, looked overcast with a gloomy face.
Three of his sons made eye contact with each other, hoping that their brother would take the initiative to comfort their father. However, nobody had any idea on how to start.
Cao Xiong was depressed because his lover had passed away. As his sons, what could they say to give comfort?
Thus they had no choice but to continue eating on their own.
The first to speak up was Cao Xiong himself.
Without any notice, he suddenly made an announcement: “Your Aunt Cheng is no longer here, but her daughter is still young. I have told Butler Zhou to bring her over within two days. She will be living with us until she comes of age.”
The two eldest sons, Cao Yang and Cao Bin, made eye contact across the table.
The third son spoke out directly. “Does she not have any other relatives?’
“No. She was an only child and her grandparents have already passed away. They had no other contact with any other relatives. These few years, she…” Cao Xiong took a long pause, then continued: “She only had me. I promised to take care of her daughter so she could be rest assured.”
The first sentence was clearly about the girl and her lack of family, but after that the conversation had already refocused on that woman again.
The second and third sons, Cao Bin and Cao Xing, both turned to their eldest brother Cao Yang.
Cao Yang had broad shoulders with a slim waist, his body tall and solid, looking exactly like a younger Cao Xiong. He sat with his back straight and didn’t move his gaze from his father and said, “Fine, she can live in our house. It’s only a matter of adding an extra pair of chopsticks. Since during these few years Aunt Cheng has always stayed at your side, we can at least not disappoint her.”
Cao Xiong’s mood seemed to improve incrementally, but at the same time it almost felt as if he sank deeper into his depression, making it difficult for his sons to get a hold of his thoughts.
At last, he sighed and put down his chopsticks. “Continue eating without me.”
“You should eat more…” His second son, Cao Bin, tried to say.
Cao Xiong shook his head without a word, standing up and leaving.
The sons couldn’t do anything but look at his back as he left.
Outsiders would think that this man, well over 50, was still strong and firm. But only his sons knew that their father had become much weaker over the last few days.
The sons couldn’t help but feel deep sadness.
Outsiders may have thought that children raised in this kind of prestigious family would definitely hate their father for finding a lover. Usually this would involve the family and cause disharmony and a conflict of interest between the sons.
However, in the Cao Family, there was no sign of any of those issues.
The sons of the Cao Family already knew their father had already done his best.
Fifteen years ago, when their mother had passed away, their father was only 39 years old. Since he was still a rising star in the army, there were many who wanted to join hands with him, and many prestigious families had wanted to set up a marriage for him.
Cao Xiong, in the prime of his life, had taken a look at his four sons – Cao Yang, 14 years old; Cao Bin, 12 years old; Cao Xing, 10 years old; and Cao An, who was 8 years old. There was a gap of two years between each of the sons. Cao Xiong considered the matter for a long time, thinking that his sons might not get along with their stepmother, and that having another child with his new wife would introduce conflict into the family… In the end, he chose to remain alone.
A man like him seemed like he would have many women around him. But no matter whether or not it was just an act, or just a trade, he would never let the women influence what he did with his sons.
Since his sons were still young, they never imagined that a strong man like their father, aside from taking care of his physiological needs, would also need someone to stay by his side.
So Cao Xiong was alone for seven years, until eight years ago he’d met a woman named Cheng Wan.
It was a rainy night when a pregnant woman suddenly ran across the road on purpose, looking for death. Luckily, Cao Xiong’s driver had been well-trained; he drifted the car and dodged the girl. Although the car did not hit Cheng Wan, she still fell to the ground. Blood flowed down her leg until it reached the road, before it diluted after mixing with the rainwater.
Cao Xiong left the car and without any hesitation carried the woman back to his car. “Go to the hospital!”
“Sir!” called the bodyguard.
He followed the bodyguard’s gaze to see a small little girl crying at the roadside. She was drenched from the rain, panicked and scared.
Exactly like her mom.
Outside the emergency room, the bodyguard went to the convenience store to buy a large towel for the little girl to dry her clothes and wring the water from her hair before wrapping her up.
Cao Xiong and the little girl were both speechless.
Cao Xiong had four sons. The four were trained in the way of new recruits to the army, even when they were at home. He was not experienced with little girls. Even when he spoke, he was careful not to raise his voice too much, afraid he would frighten the little girl.
Proofread by: Hannah